an officer far advanced in years, who had long served with high reputation, and who was much and generally beloved on account of his simple manners and amiable temper, commanded the legions in Illyria and Pannonia, at the period (A. D. 350), when Constans was treacherously destroyed, and his throne seized by Magnentius.
The first impulse of the veteran induced him to write a letter to Constantius promising firm allegiance, and urging him to advance with all speed that he might in person chastise the usurper. Soon afterwards, however, he was prevailed upon by the solicitations of his troops, and by the pressing representations of the notorious Constantina [CONSTANTINA], eldest sister of Constantine the Great, himself to assume the purple at Sirmium, about the beginning of March, A. D. 350. Being now courted by both of the contending parties, he concluded a treaty with Constantius whom he soon abandoned; he next entered into close alliance with Magnentius, and finally, as detailed in a former article [CONSTANTIUS], was constrained by dextrous management at the famous conference held on the 25th December near Sardica to abdicate the power which he had exercised for less than ten months, and to resign all his pretensions in favour of Constantius, by whom he was treated with great kindness, and permitted to retire to Prusa, in Bithynia, where he passed the remaining six years of his life in contented tranquillity, practising the virtues of the Christian faith which he professed.
It is tolerably clear, as far as we can pretend to draw any conclusion from the confused and contradictory accounts transmitted to us regarding the above transactions, that the extraordinary conduct of Vetranio must be ascribed to natural indecision or to the vacillating imbecility of old age, rather than to a system of complicated treachery altogether foreign to his character, which is painted in very favourable colours by almost all the historians of this epoch, except Aurelius Victor who describes him as little better than a mischievous idiot. [CONSTANS; MAGNENTIUS; CONSTANTIUS.] (Julian. Orat.
i. ii.; Themist. Orat.
iii. iv.; Amm. Marc. 15.1.2
; Aurel. Vict. de Caes.
41, 42, Epit.
41; Eutrop. 10.6
; Zosim. 2.43, 44; Zonar. 13.7
; Chron. Alexandr. ; Chron. Idat.; Socrat. H. E.
2.28; Sozomen. H. E.
4.3; Philostorg. H.E.